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Building new Chinese and Tamil
primary schools - stop being a political “football” for BN leaders when
it must be handled professionally as an education issue based strictly on
enrolment needs of pupils and not on political and electioneering needs of
(Parliament, Wednesday) : Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said after the Barisan Nasional Youth national committee meeting yesterday that he had no way of saying in a concrete manner how many Chinese and Tamil primary schools would be built under the Ninth Malaysia Plan as this depends on the decision taken after “high-level” discussions. (Sin Chew Daily)
Hishammuddin had unwittingly highlighted the root cause of the long-standing problem of the Barisan Nasional neglect, discrimination and marginalization of Chinese and Tamil primary schools – the politicization of mother-tongue education in the country.
Why must issues pertaining to Chinese and Tamil primary schools, including the building of new schools, be treated as “hot political potatoes” which must be dealt with at the highest leadership level of the Barisan Nasional, involving the Education Minister who is Umno Youth leader with MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik?
Why can’t the whole education issue be depoliticized so that such questions are treated as pure and simple education issues to be handled professionally and objectively at the administrative level by education officials, without having to involve the Education Minister?
Cabinet Ministers should set the policy that new primary schools, whether national, Chinese or Tamil, should be built to meet increased enrolment needs which should be implemented by the Education Ministry officials, instead of the present situation where Ministers who are leaders of non-Umno Barisan Nasional parties have to negotiate and even beg the Education Minister for his “benevolence” to approve the building of new Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
The issue of building new Chinese and Tamil primary schools must not continue to be treated as a “political football” by Barisan Nasional leaders as it must be handled professionally as an education issue based strictly on enrolment needs of pupils and not on political and electioneering needs of BN parties.
If there is increased demand for Chinese and Tamil primary schools, then build new Chinese and Tamil primary schools to cater to the rising student enrolment for these schools. This should the sole criterion as to whether new Chinese and Tamil primary schools should be built, and not as of now, where the primary consideration is whether it would politically benefit the BN component parties especially their electioneering needs.
The stock answer DAP MPs get in Parliament whether from the Education Minister or even the Prime Minister when we ask about the building of new Chinese and Tamil primary schools is that they would be built according to need.
DAP MPs in Parliament will henceforth reject such meaningless answers as what we want to make clear to the Barisan Nasional government that while we agree that new Chinese and Tamil primary schools should be built according to need – but it must be the educational and increased enrolment needs of pupils for these schools and not the political or electioneering needs of the Barisan Nasional parties as is now the BN philosophy.
Hishammuddin said yesterday that the building of Chinese and Tamil primary schools is a complex question depending on the resolution of many issues – like land, financial allocation, whether schools with few students should be closed, merged or relocated.
After nearly half-a-century of nationhood, Chinese and Tamil primary schools should be treated equally as national primary schools. Why should the building of new Chinese and Tamil primary schools be dependent on the resolution of a cluster of complex problems unrelated to the problem of increased enrolment needs of pupils for these schools in a particular locality, when the building of new national primary schools never had to face these problems?
As Education Minister, Hishammuddin should focus all his energies to check the rot in the failing national education system to ensure that we provide a quality primary and secondary education which is comparable to the best in the world to prepare the new generation of Malaysians with the mindset, skills and talents to face an increasingly competitive future in the global economy.
It is a real indictment of the 49-national education system that on the eve of the 50th National Day celebrations, there are 794 schools without power and 1,555 schools without water supply.
These are the issues Hishammuddin must take on board as his topmost priority instead of playing God to decide whether to approve one or two new Chinese or Tamil primary schools under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and where.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman